The first detailed study of the diets of great white sharks off the east coast of Australia reveals that this predator spends more time foraging near the seabed than expected.
The study found that, depending on the abundance of each food, the sharks’ diet was based primarily on :
- Pelagic fish or fish swimming in the ocean, such as Australian salmon: 32.2%
- Bottom-dwelling fish, such as stargazers, sole, or flathead: 17.4%
- Reef fish, such as eastern clotheslines: 5.0%
- Batoid fish, such as rays: 14.9%
As explained by lead author Richard Grainger , a Ph.D. Candidate at the Charles Perkins Center and the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney:
Inside the stomachs of sharks we find remains of a variety of species of fish that generally live on the seabed or are buried in the sand. This indicates that sharks must spend a good portion of their time foraging just above the seabed.
The study examined the stomach contents of 40 juvenile white sharks ( Carcharodon carcharias ) caught in the NSW Shark Meshing Program. The scientists compared this with published data in other parts of the world, primarily South Africa, to establish a nutritional framework for the species .
So the stereotype of a shark’s dorsal fin on the surface while hunting is probably not a very accurate picture.